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The History of Cricket: 1746–1750 | The History of Cricket: 1761–1770 | Index


The History of Cricket: 1751–1760

1751 | 1752 | 1753 | 1754 | 1755 | 1756 | 1757 | 1758 | 1759 | 1760
John Edmeads | Gill of Bucks | Stephen Harding
Hambledon Club | Rover | Broadhalfpenny Down
The First Bowling Revolution


Just as we think we are learning a lot more about the game in the 1740s, suddenly the number of reports reduce after 1752 and we are back to scraps of information as in the 1720s!

Having said that, the number of matches played in this period may have been affected by three factors, the most obvious of which is the deaths in 1750 and 1751 of the game's two most significant patrons: the 2nd Duke of Richmond and the Prince of Wales. But the prime factor must have been war which, as always, took its toll of the country's manpower and resources. The country was still recovering from the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748) and its satellite conflicts in India and North America. Peace, as always in such times of political instability, was transitory and the Seven Years War (1756–1763) soon followed. Some gentlemen players and patrons will have taken up commissions in the armed forces and of course many of the professional players will have joined the redcoated ranks or become not-so-jolly "Jack Tars". The impact of these wars was surely the same as in the early 19th century when British forces took the field against Bonaparte and cricket was reduced to a handful of games per season.

Another impact during this period may have been cricket's first bowling revolution. It is generally believed that the pitched delivery was introduced before 1770 but when is unknown. When we remember the introductions of roundarm and overarm bowling, then pitching may have created similar controversy. Strangely, the sources are quiet about it but it is reasonable to assume that pitching was not allowed without argument.

It is not known when the Hambledon Club was founded or when the Hambledon team began its rise to greatness, presumably by first proving that it was the best in Hampshire, but it was certainly involved in major matches by 1756 when it played Dartford three times.

1751

the history

The population of Great Britain in 1751 reached 7,250,000 and, although the figure was rising, the country remained a small rural society with London the only real urban centre.

the cricket

Having lost the 2nd Duke of Richmond in 1750, cricket was hit by the death of another significant patron, the Prince of Wales, on 31 March. The loss of these patrons had an adverse impact on the game's finances and the number of top-class matches reduced for some years to come, although economic difficulties arising from the wars of the period certainly inhibited many potential investors. It was said that the Prince of Wales died as a result of being struck on the head by a cricket ball. He may well have been hit on the head but that did not kill him; the cause of death was a burst abscess in a lung.

The early death of Prince Frederick Louis meant that his son Prince George became heir to the throne and he succeeded in 1760 as George III.

The earliest known references to cricket in each of Durham, Somerset, Warwickshire and Yorkshire are all found in 1751.

The earliest reference to cricket in Somerset is a match on 13 July that was played in memory of the late Prince of Wales.

A match announcement in Aris' Gazette on 15 July is the earliest known reference to cricket in Warwickshire.

The earliest reference to cricket in Durham is a game at Raby Castle on or soon after Monday, 5 August between the Earl of Northumberland's XI and the Duke of Cleveland's XI. The game was commemorated by a ballad, recorded in ASW, which starts:

Durham City has been dull so long,
No bustle at all to show;
But now the rage of all the throng
Is at cricketing to go.

The earliest definite reference to cricket in Yorkshire is a game soon after Monday, 5 August at Stanwick, near Richmond, between Duke of Cleveland's XI and Earl of Northumberland's XI (the same teams that played in Durham, as noted above). Other writers have quoted "a local match in Sheffield" but according to evidence found by Steven Draper the 1751 reference to Sheffield appears to be spurious.

single wicket

Monday, 3 June. A "fives" match was played in the Artillery Ground between Kent and Surrey. The Kent team was Tom Faulkner (given man), John & Thomas Bell, Stone and Val Romney. The Surrey team was Stephen Dingate, John Harris, Joe Harris, Stephen Harding and Perry. Kent won although the betting was in favour of Surrey.

Wednesday, 5 June. The same two teams met in a return match at the Artillery Ground with Kent winning by 14 runs. Kent scored 4 and 57; Surrey replied with 26 and 21. Kent made a huge improvement in their second innings!

stephen harding

Stephen Harding (dates of birth and death unknown) played for Chertsey, All-England and Surrey. Harding was a hard-hitting batsman and a good bowler, although his style and pace is unknown. He featured in single wicket contests and seems to have been a fine all-rounder.

He is first recorded in May 1751 when he played for All-England v Kent at the Artillery Ground. All-England won by 9 runs and Harding made a significant contribution. Although he had been picked as a bowler, it is known that he and "A N Other" (an unnamed Chertsey player) opened All-England's second innings and scored 51 for the first wicket, which is like a double century partnership nowadays. Harding apparently made 50 of these himself and had one hit out of the ground and against a house on Bunhill Row opposite. He was given four for this mighty effort. You could only score six if you were actually able to run that many and to do that you would need the help of overthrows.

Soon afterwards, in a return match, Harding played for All-England again and they beat Kent by an innings. In 1759, Harding was a member of the All-England team beaten twice by Dartford Cricket Club. He was still making big hits in September 1765, when he played for Chertsey against Richmond on Richmond Green. Helping Chertsey to win by 106 runs, Harding made 24 in four balls with a five, two sixes and a seven! That is the last time he is recorded. The bulk of his career was during the 1750s when cricket reports are scarce and he spanned the Seven Years War which had a disastrous impact on the sport.

significant matches

Surrey v London

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 13 May 1751

result unknown (ASW)

The actual title of the match as advertised beforehand was Addington, Warlingham, Croydon & Cheam versus Ripley, Thursley & London! Wickets to be pitched at one o'clock and the game was arranged "by the noblemen and gentlemen of the London Club". No match details were reported afterwards.

All-England v Kent

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 20 & Tuesday, 21 May 1751

All-England won by 9 runs (ASW/CS)

Kent had Tom Faulkner (Addington and Surrey) as a given man. All-England scored 26 and 122; Kent replied with 76 and 63. So 287 runs were scored in the match and this was a lot for the time, given the uncertain state of all wickets.

All-England: Stephens, Richard Newland, Edward Aburrow senior, John Harris, Joe Harris, John Frame, Matthews, Perry, Stephen Harding, Stephen Dingate, A N Other.

Kent: William Hodsoll, Tom Faulkner, Stone, Wilden, Garrett, Rawlings, John & Thomas Bell, Howard, James Bryant, Val Romney.

It is known that "A N Other" played for Thursley, as did Harding (later of Chertsey) who was a noted bowler and a hard-hitting batsman. In England's second innings, these two went in first and scored 51 for the first wicket, which is like a double century partnership nowadays. Harding apparently made 50 of these himself and had one hit out of the ground and against a house on Bunhill Row opposite. He was given four for this mighty effort. You could only score six if you were actually able to run that many and to do that you would need the help of overthrows.

Play on the first day started at one o'clock and on the second day at ten o'clock. At the end of the first day, Kent in their second innings were 23-2, still needing 73 to win. Kent were reduced to 43-9 when the last pair came together so the final wicket added 20.

For the first time ever, the fall of wickets in an innings is known. This is England's second innings:

1–51, 2–72, 3–77, 4–77, 5–78, 6–84, 7–87, 8–119, 9–119, 10–122

All-England v Kent

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Wednesday, 22 May 1751

All-England won by an innings & 9 runs (ASW/CS)

Kent scored 88 and 67; All-England scored 164. The teams were the same as on the two previous days and again the name of the Thursley player is unrecorded. It would seem that Kent was no longer good enough to challenge All-England, probably due in part to the impact of Robert Colchin's early death.

All-England: Stephens, Richard Newland, Edward Aburrow senior, John Harris, Joe Harris, John Frame, Matthews, Perry, Stephen Harding, Stephen Dingate, A N Other (of Thursley).

Kent: William Hodsoll, Tom Faulkner, Stone, Wilden, Garrett, Rawlings, John & Thomas Bell, Howard, James Bryant, Val Romney.

Addington v Hadlow

Hayes Common, near Bromley, Kent

Saturday, 1 June 1751

result unknown (GB18)

Pre-announced in the Daily Advertiser on Thursday 30 May.

Surrey v Middlesex

Kennington Common, Kennington, Surrey

Monday, 24 June 1751

result unknown (GB18)

Announced in the Daily Advertiser same day with a one o'clock start.

ASW records four matches played at Newmarket and Woburn between "Gentlemen of England" and "Eton College Past & Present". The four games were played during June and July. The second game has a surviving scorecard but the teams in all four matches are decidedly minor.

Dartford v Bromley

Dartford Brent, Dartford, Kent

Tuesday, 23 July 1751

result unknown (ASW/CS)

This was played for one hundred guineas. Apparently, there was a challenge from the Newmarket players to take on 22 of the players in this game for any sum, but nothing further is known about it.

Bromley v Dartford

Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

Thursday, 1 August 1751

result unknown (GB18)

This was a return to the match on 23 July.

London v Country XI

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 19 August 1751

London won by 5 runs (ASW/DC)

London scored 30 and 5; the Country XI replied with 24 and 6.

other matches

Richmond v Kingston & Hampton

Moulsey Hurst, near Molesey, Surrey

Wednesday, 4 September 1751

result unknown (PVC)

Announced in the Daily Advertiser on Monday 2 September: "for two guineas a man; 11 a side, and to play home & home (sic)".

1752

the history

A very important year in dating terms. The Gregorian calendar, first devised in 1582, was finally adopted in Great Britain.

An 11-day discrepancy between the Julian and Gregorian versions was corrected by having Wednesday 2 September 1752 followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. There was civil unrest among the population due to a widespread belief that people's lives were literally being shortened by 11 days!

The British also adopted 1 January as the day when a new year begins, effective from 1 January 1753. The year had previously begun on 25 March. This meant that 1 February 1752 in a country like Holland, that had already adopted the Gregorian Calendar, was 1 February 1751 in England, where the Julian Calendar was still in use. Therefore, 24 March 1751 was followed by 25 March 1752.

1752 is Great Britain's shortest-ever year since it began on 25 March, ended on 31 December and also lost the 11 days in September.

In North America, Benjamin Franklin invented his lightning conductor.

the cricket

Fortunately, for the purposes of this work, the calendar has minimal impact because the cricket season never began before 25 March and so the year is always the same whether a Julian or Gregorian date is used, apart from a few "out of season" references that have been noted accordingly. The only problem is that care has to be taken re any original sources that insisted on using the Julian date after the Gregorian Calendar was introduced.

On Thursday 27 February (Julian), the Daily Advertiser reported that George Smith of the Artillery Ground had taken the late Duke of Somerset's house at Marlborough and intended to open it as an inn. Smith offered the Artillery Ground and its dwelling house, etc. on lease for 7 years. Smith had evidently overcome his bankruptcy problems in 1748.

On Saturday 30 May (Julian), the Daily Advertiser carried a notice re the Artillery Ground that "gentlemen may be supplied with bats and balls" and that "the ground is kept in good order for play by your humble servant William Sharpe".

significant matches

Kent v Surrey

Chislehurst Common, Chislehurst, Kent

Wednesday, 17 June 1752

result unknown (GB18)

This match was advertised on Tuesday, 16 June in the Daily Advertiser by George Williams of the White Lion at Streatham who said he would provide the best of liquors and a cold collation; he humbly hoped the noblemen and gentlemen would do him the honour of regaling themselves!

See the games on 3 and 21 August 1745 for earlier references to Mr Williams and his catering services. Williams played cricket himself and was captain of the Streatham club in 1745.

Bromley v London

Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

Tuesday, 30 June 1752

match drawn (GB18)

London scored 52 and 92; Bromley replied with 60 and were 52 for 5 when play ended, presumably because of rain.

The precise venue was the White Hart field on Bromley Common. Stakes were £50 a side.

Bromley had John Mansfield (Sevenoaks) and Howard (Kent) as given men.

London v Bromley

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Wednesday, 15 July 1752

result unknown (GB18)

This was the return match postponed from Monday 6 July due to wet weather.

Westminster v Addington

Tothill Fields, Westminster, Middlesex

Monday, 20 July 1752

result unknown (GB18)

Westminster's team included Stephen Dingate, William Anderson, the two Bennetts, Perry and Capon. The Addington team included John Mansfield, George Jackson, John Frame, Durling and the Harrises.

Dartford v The Rest

Dartford Brent, Dartford, Kent

Wednesday, 29 July 1752

result unknown (GB18)

Dartford's team was pre-announced as William Hodsoll, John Bryant, Robert Eures and 8 others of the parish of Dartford against "any 11 men to be chosen and taken in any part of England". Dartford was a very strong team in the 1750s and this invitation is reminiscent of the Slindon Challenges of a decade earlier.

Westminster v Addington

Tothill Fields, Westminster, Middlesex

Monday, 3 August 1752

Westminster by 10 runs (GB18)

This may be a return to the match on Monday, 20 July or it may be the same match having been postponed. There are no details of the players this time.

Dartford v The Rest

Dartford Brent, Dartford, Kent

Tuesday, 11 August 1752

result unknown (GB18)

Dartford with 4 men allowed against 11 men to be picked out of All England, for £20 a side.

Addington v Dartford

Addington Hill, near Croydon, Surrey

Wednesday, 12 August 1752

result unknown (GB18)

This was another match announced by our "most humble servant" George Williams, who would again provide "the usual accommodation and victuals".

Sussex v Surrey

"Long Down", somewhere in Sussex?

Friday, 29 September 1752

Surrey won by c.80 runs (TJM)

Taken from a report in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser dated 16 October which says: "Last Friday se'enight the great Match at Cricket between Surrey and Sussex was finished, on Long Down, when Surrey beat by about four score Notches".

other matches

London v Edmonton

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Wednesday, 29 July 1752

result unknown (GB18)

The prize was 10 guineas.

The Daily Advertiser on Monday, 31 August (two days before the end of the Julian Calendar) announced a game on the same day between Marybone (sic) Club and 11 of London for a guinea a man: "to meet at Francis Ludgate's, the Sunday, and Sportsman next the church. Wickets to be pitched at one o'clock, and the match played out". Note that this Marylebone Club had no connection with the MCC. (GB18)

On the same day, Monday, 31 August, there was a match at Durdham Down near Bristol between 11 of Bristol and 11 of London for 20 guineas. This was announced in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal on Saturday, 29 August (Julian). (GB18)

Deptford v Westminster

Upper Fountain, Deptford, Kent

Thursday, 28 September 1752

result unknown (GB18)

The Daily Advertiser on Saturday, 29 August (Julian) announced that this game would take place on Thursday, 14 September (i.e., day one itself of the Gregorian Calendar immediately following the last Julian date of Wednesday, 2 September). Tom Faulkner and one of the Harrises were to be given men on the Deptford side. On Thursday, 21 September (Gregorian), the Daily Advertiser announced postponement of the match to Thursday, 28 September and reported that John Bryant and "two from Chislehurst" would play for Deptford instead of Faulkner and Harris "who were not allowed to play".

1753

the history

5 April. The founding charter of the British Museum was enacted.

the cricket

A poem, dedicated to the 1st Duke of Dorset, refers to a crimson cricket ball (see Barty-King). It may have been made by Mr Clout, whose firm was in Sevenoaks where the Dukes of Dorset reside at Knole House.

single wicket

Monday, 10 September. Two of London were to play Tom Faulkner and Joe Harris for £20 at the Artillery Ground (GB18).

significant matches

Two Elevens

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Wednesday, 15 August 1753

result unknown (GB18)

This was a benefit match for Mr Anderson of the Dial in Long Alley, Moorfields. There was a well-known player called William Anderson, first mentioned in 1745, so presumably this was he. The two elevens were made up of various players from the general London area with "the best bowlers to be parted".

Dover v Dartford

Dover, Kent

Monday, 6 & Tuesday, 7 August 1753

Dover won by 7 runs (GB18/CS)

Dover scored 57 and 83; Dartford scored 95 and 38.

This is the first significant mention of Dover in cricket history. Dartford remained a premier club through the 1750s so presumably this was a shock result.

London v Marylebone

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Thursday, 30 August 1753

result unknown (GB18)

Marylebone (no connection with MCC) had "Tall" Bennett and William King as given men.

1754

the history

6 March. Death in office of Henry Pelham, the prime minister. He was succeeded by his brother, the 2nd Duke of Richmond's old friend Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle (1693–1768; Whig), his first term of office ending in October 1756.

the cricket

The Leeds Intelligencer, forerunner of the Yorkshire Post, began publication. It has always been a noted source for cricket in Yorkshire.

single wicket

According to p.xxi of S&B, the Daily Advertiser announced sometime in 1754 that a five-a-side match will take place "on Monday next" at the Artillery Ground. The players named were Faulkner, the two Harrises, John Frame and Durling on one side; against John Mansfield, John Bell, John Bryant, Little Bennett and William King. It was "for a guinea a man" with the wickets to be pitched at twelve o'clock and the match to be played out. Mr Haygarth says it names the best players of the day and this is interesting because William King is rarely named elsewhere; also, this is the only source that quotes Mansfield's first name as John.

The Daily Advertiser on Friday 28 June announced for the same day a two-a-side game "behind George Taylor's at Deptford". The players were Tom Faulkner and Joe Harris v Capon and Perry. (PVC)

Tuesday, 24 September. CS records a single wicket game at Brompton in Kent between the well-known Thomas Brandon of Dartford and Parr of Chatham. The stakes were five guineas each and Brandon won by 47 runs.

significant matches

London v Dartford

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 1 July 1754

Dartford won by 3 wickets (PVC/CS)

London made 78 and 50; Dartford replied with 55 and 74-7.

The Daily Advertiser on Friday, 28 June said: "Wickets pitched at Twelve, and to begin play at One". A curious arrangement!

Surrey v Sussex

Guildford, Surrey

Monday, 22 July 1754

result unknown (GB18)

The match was advertised as: "Guildford, Ripley, Thursley and the lower part of Surrey against Bolney, Brighton and the eastern part of Sussex". The stake was 20 guineas a side.

Woolwich v Dartford

Barrack Field, Woolwich

Saturday, 24 August 1754

Dartford won (PVC)

Dartford v Woolwich

Dartford Brent

Monday, 26 August 1754

Woolwich won (PVC)

Both the above two games were mentioned in the same report by Read's Weekly Journal dated Saturday, 31 August: "Dartford won away & lost at home against Woolwich on Sat. & Mon., Aug. 24 & 26 respectively". The Woolwich club was on the fringe of first-class status at the end of the 18th century but its ability to successfully challenge Dartford at this time clearly shows that it was a leading club in the 1750s.

other matches

Friday, 21 & Saturday, 22 June. TJM records Midhurst & Petworth v Slindon on Bowling Green, Lavington Common. The former apparently won by eight wickets and the match seems to mark the swansong of Slindon as a great team as they are not mentioned in the sources thereafter. Sussex cricket as a whole went into decline and, although a number of inter-parish games are reported over the next decade or so, it is not until 1766 that we again find a Sussex team in a major match. This temporary demise of Sussex is surely explained by the death of the 2nd Duke of Richmond in 1750. He was the greatest patron of Sussex cricket, and of Slindon in particular. His co-patron and good friend Sir William Gage died in 1744.

1755

the history

Samuel Johnson, who provided us with the first mention of cricket at Oxford University in 1729, published his famous Dictionary in 1755.

There was a massive earthquake in Lisbon which killed an estimated 30,000 people.

the cricket

Only one significant match is recorded in 1755 and a couple of single wicket contests.

Thursday, 28 August. Mr Waghorn recorded an horrific injury to a player who had his right eye "knocked out by a ball". The game was on Kennington Common but no other information was reported.

single wicket

Thursday, 26 June. DC records a "fives" match on Kennington Common in which the London Club defeated Windsor & Eton by 8 runs. London scored 13 and 22; Windsor & Eton scored 11 and 16. London's team was Perry, the two Bennetts, Capon and Clowder.

Monday, 28 July. Joe Harris and another London player against two Surrey players at the Artillery Ground. Result unknown.

significant matches

London v Surrey & Middlesex

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Friday, 8 August 1755

London won by 20 runs (DC)

The match was described as "so long depending" which suggests it may have been postponed. Tom Faulkner, Joe Harris and John Frame all played for London as given men.

other matches

Cambridge University v Eton

Cambridge

Tuesday, 3 June 1755

CU won (GB18)

Cambridge University v Eton

Cambridge

Thursday, 5 June 1755

CU won (GB18)

Cricket at Cambridge University was first mentioned in 1710. These are the first matches known to have been played by a team representing the University. It is not clear if the Eton team was past or present pupils or both. From a comment made by the Public Advertiser, it would seem that the teams met in 1754 also and that Eton won.

The Daily Advertiser announced on Thursday, 12 June that on Monday next, 16 June, the Duke of Cumberland (aka the Butcher) would review Lt Gen. Cholmondeley's Regiment of Dragoons upon Datchet Common, Bucks. After the review a cricket match was to be played for a considerable sum of money. (PVC)

Hampton v Kingston

Hampton Court Green, Hampton, Middlesex

Thursday, 10 July 1755

Hampton won by 3 wickets (DC)

Kingston scored 95 and 50; Hampton scored 72 and 65-7. Play was delayed for an hour by rain after Hampton's first innings ended. Odds were "a guinea to a crown on the Kingston side and at last as much on the Court side"!

London v Waltham

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 21 July 1755

result unknown (GB18)

The game was pre-announced by the Daily Advertiser on Saturday, 19 July.

Hambledon

The Hambledon Club in rural Hampshire had certainly been founded by 1768. Its basis was a local parish cricket team that was in existence before 1750 and had achieved prominence by 1756 when it played a series of three matches versus Dartford, which had itself been a major club for at least 30 years.

Although Hambledon is widely and erroneously called the "Cradle of Cricket", it can at least, says Ashley-Cooper, "claim to have been the centre in which the game was first brought to a certain degree of perfection and was developed in several respects to its lasting advantage". Hambledon came to the fore just as the pitched delivery was introduced and, in response, the straight bat was invented. Perhaps these innovations were introduced at Hambledon and so it qualifies as the cradle of a new code of cricket? It is sometimes said, probably in speculation, that John Small invented the straight bat, though I'm inclined to think he was the first to master its use. The pioneering era of cricket's evolution was over and, in the years following the Seven Years War, Hambledon saw in a new era defined by underarm pitching which lasted until the introduction of roundarm in the years following the Napoleonic Wars. We do not know who introduced pitching, or when, or where, but it effectively created a new code of cricket that was developed primarily at Hambledon. When scorecards began to be kept habitually so that definite records of the matches were handed down to posterity, it came to be recognised as first-class cricket, so perhaps Hambledon should be termed the "cradle of first-class cricket" while everything that went beforehand was a pioneering era in the game's evolution.

Hambledon's mainstay was Reverend Charles Powlett (1728–1809) who, according to Ashley-Cooper, was "regarded, if not as the actual founder, at least as the chief patron of the Club". When Billy Beldham was interviewed by James Pycroft in the 1830s, he remembered overhearing a remark by Powlett in about 1785 which indicated that the Hambledon Club was by then some thirty years old. In fact, Powlett graduated as MA from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1755 so his involvement with the team may have begun that year. It is likely that at this time it was just a team based on a parish organisation and not a formally constituted club.

As late as September 1764, two London newspapers referred to Hambledon as "Squire Lamb's Club". It is believed that "Squire Lamb" was actually Squire Thomas Land (1714–1791) whose family resided in Hambledon and were noted locally for hunting with hounds. Land may have been the parish team's patron for some years in the 1750s and 1760s but then left, perhaps in umbrage, when the Hambledon Club was formally constituted in the mid-1760s.

F S Ashley-Cooper's Hambledon Cricket Chronicle (HCC) provides a list of definitely known members and it interestingly excludes luminaries like the 3rd Duke of Dorset, Sir Horatio Mann and the 4th Earl of Tankerville who are often thought to have been associated with the club but were in fact the rival patrons only. Ashley-Cooper's list helpfully shows the dates when a member is known to have been elected or to have resigned. Some are given no date of election and it is believed that these formed the original nucleus of the membership before 1772, when the HCC coverage begins.

The early members include:

  • Sir William Bennett of Fareham, who was Club President in 1786;
  • the 3rd Duke of Chandos, Club president in 1777;
  • the Rev. Reynell Cotton, composer of the famous club song and President in 1773;
  • J T de Burgh, who played in a few matches and was President in 1784;
  • Philip Dehany, one of the mainstays who was on the 1774 Laws committee;
  • Lord Dunkellin, elder brother of J T de Burgh;
  • Sir John Whalley Gardiner, President in 1783;
  • George Charles Garnier, President in 1781;
  • Carew Gauntlett, the Winchester wine merchant whose firm supplied the club with its victuals;
  • Jervoise Clarke Jervoise, President in 1782 and possibly related to the Mr Jervoise who patronised Surrey cricket in the 1730s;
  • the 2nd Earl of Northington, President in 1778;
  • the Rev. Charles Powlett, the main patron who was on the 1774 Laws committee;
  • John Richards, another key patron who seems to have been the Club Treasurer;
  • Thomas Ridge, who played for the club in its early years but, like Squire Land, was better known as a huntsman.

The Hambledon Club was multi-functional and essentially a social club that, inter alia, organised county cricket matches. The evidence of HCC is that the members were primarily interested in good wine, singing and gambling. As we have seen, Georgian cricket was an occasion for gambling and the object of playing the game was to win it, not to play up and play it as the Victorians would have it. Horse racing was enjoyed just as much as cricket for the members made sure their weekly meeting was rescheduled if it clashed with the racing at Winchester.

It has often been said that Hambledon's teams should be termed "Hampshire" but, according to a comment in HCC and to evidence quoted by G B Buckley, "Hampshire & Sussex" was synonymous with "Hambledon Club" and it is true that Sussex per se was not at all prominent during the Hambledon Era. Having been one of the greatest counties in the days of Richmond and Gage, it had fallen away after their deaths and did not recover until the rise of the Brighton club in the 1790s. Significantly, Hambledon used several Sussex men in its teams, including Richard Nyren himself. Hambledon is very close to the West Sussex border with Hampshire and I think Mr Buckley's evidence does indeed point to the Hambledon Club being representative of two counties.

According to John Nyren, Hambledon was about to pack up in 1771 after a number of defeats during the previous couple of seasons but, having managed to defeat Chertsey (aka Surrey) at Laleham Burway in the "Big Bat Match" on 23 September 1771, they decided to carry on. Although there was a bad year in 1773, Hambledon's stature continued to grow till by the late 1770s it was the foremost cricket club in England.

HCC covers the years 1772 to 1796 and says that for most of this period the "Club Days" were Tuesdays, those being the occasions of meeting for the members and of practice for the players. From 1772 to 1785, "the season started on the first Tuesday in May". After that they tinkered with the system but, in September 1782, they did begin a process of sending printed lists of meeting dates to each member. Attendance at meetings was often poor and the minutes, reproduced in HCC, show that consequently a candidate's election had to be postponed for several weeks. In August 1777, it was agreed that seven members would constitute a ballot and this was reduced to five in 1793, long after the glory days had passed. In typical club fashion, collecting subscriptions was a problem and various means, including posting of names, were employed to try and persuade members to cough up. Two of the most prominent players, William Barber and Richard Nyren, were commissioned to collect arrears.

For a long time, an abiding mystery was the identity of the legendary "Madge" whose "immortal memory" was toasted at club meetings from 1781 along with the Queen's Mother, the King, the Hambledon Club, Cricket and the President. HCC waxes eloquent about who Madge might be, both in the book and in the foreword by E V Lucas, but misses the point, perhaps deliberately given that they were writing in the 1920s. I need not be so reticent. "Madge" is a what, not a who, and it means the vagina. It was a crude, contemporary slang term and would be the equivalent of "cunt" or "twat" now. Rowland Bowen explains it in his Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development, p.63–64. According to John Arlott in Arlott on Cricket, p.10, the meaning of "madge" was found in the 1950s, from Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), to be "the private parts of a woman".

That such an item should be in the club toast suggests the influence of excess alcohol. The importance of wine is very clear in the club minutes and accounts. This evidence reinforces the view that it was essentially a social club. Wines, ports and sherries were bought in large quantities from a Winchester firm called Gauntlett and Smith. One club minute says: "A wet day, only three members present, nine bottles of wine". John Nyren clearly drank his share of the booze available on match days when he goes on about "genuine Boniface", "John Bull stuff" and talking cats! It wasn't just the members because Nyren recalls "those fine, brown-faced fellows of farmers" and "how they would drink to our success!"

One thing is certain about the Hambledon Club members and Georgian society in general — they weren't prigs. They contrast sharply with both the Puritans of the previous century and the Muscular Christians of the next.

The minutes and accounts also reveal expenditure on cricket. Several players such as Noah Mann, Richard Purchase, Billy Beldham and John Wells were voted expenses so that they could hire horses for travel. The club also paid for equipment including the hats that the players wore in matches.

In 1782 the club moved from its original ground at Broadhalfpenny Down to Windmill Down, about half a mile away towards the village of Hambledon itself, and the Hambledon Club's great days ended when Lord's was established as the home of the new Marylebone Cricket Club in 1787. Membership declined during the 1790s. On 29 August 1796, fifteen people attended a meeting and amongst them, according to the official minutes, was "Mr Thos Pain, Authour of the rights of Man"! It was clearly a joke for Thomas Paine was then under sentence of death for treason and exiled in revolutionary Paris. The last entry in the club minutes is dated 21 September 1796 and simply states: "No Gentlemen".

That was the end of the "Glory Days" although the Hambledon Club, perhaps with a new constitution, continued until 1825 as a typical local cricket club playing village cricket matches against other typical local clubs.

1756

the history

The beginning of the calamitous Seven Years War against Louis XV of France to 1763. Great Britain and Prussia were allied against France and Austria as a result of ongoing conflicts in North America and in Silesia. A subsidiary conflict called the Third Carnatic War developed in India. Great Britain suffered some early setbacks and, in October, the Newcastle ministry was obliged to resign.

One of the setbacks, which caused national outrage in Britain, was the infamous "Black Hole of Calcutta", which occurred when Siraj-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Bengal, captured Calcutta and imprisoned 146 British in a small room where most died in one night.

In November, William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720–1764; Whig) became prime minister to May 1757. He was effectively an interim prime minister because of the refusal by William Pitt (the Elder) to serve in Newcastle's cabinet and the subsequent refusal of leading Whigs to accept Pitt as Newcastle's successor. However, Pitt was Secretary of State with responsibility for managing the war effort and held the real power in Devonshire's administration.

the cricket

There is no doubt that the Seven Years War had a severe impact on cricket. There is clearly a reduction in the number of major matches during its span, including none whatsoever in 1760, the middle year of the war. Many players must have joined the forces and the patrons will have been reluctant to invest in games fielding weak teams; in any case, they would need to save their money in wartime.

In many ways, the Seven Years War had a more profound impact on cricket than even the Napoleonic War, during which the game managed to stay on its feet due to the efforts of MCC and the Brighton club. But in the 1750s and 1760s, the sport relied on ad hoc patronage and there was no controlling body that could manage a co-ordinated response to the emergency. As a result, the sport had to fall back on its parish roots.

It is also very likely that cricket's first bowling revolution occurred in the next ten years or so as bowlers were certainly pitching the ball by 1770, but there are no surviving reports to describe the reception that pitching had when it was tried and implemented.

single wicket

In DC, Mr Waghorn records a pre-announcement that a "fives" game involving a Hambledon side would be played on Saturday, 28 August at the Artillery Ground. The Hambledon players are unnamed but their opponents were a strong team: Tom Faulkner, Joe Harris, John Frame, John Bell and Durling. No details of the result were recorded. Stakes were £20 a side. This may have been a curtain raiser for the main event on Monday 30 August.

significant matches

Dartford v Hambledon

venue unknown

date unknown, 1756

Dartford won? (DC)

Hambledon v Dartford

Broadhalfpenny Down

Wednesday, 18 August 1756

Dartford won? (DC)

Dartford v Hambledon

Artillery Ground

Monday, 30 August 1756

Dartford won? (DC)

These three Dartford v Hambledon games are the earliest definite references to matches involving a Hambledon team. The one on Broadhalfpenny is known about because of the famous advert in the Reading Mercury concerning a dog called Rover whose owner lost him at the match. He was offering five shillings for Rover's return but we don't know if the poor dog was ever found again. As we have seen earlier in this history, it was the norm to shoot stray dogs. It should be said that the advert does not conclusively prove that Hambledon was playing Dartford that day, but in the light of subsequent reports it seems a more than reasonable assumption.

LOST

At the Cricket-Match on Broad-Halfpenny, on Wednesday the 18th of August, 1756,

A Yellow and White SPANIEL DOG, of the Setting Kind, about 18 inches high, with a mottled Nose, and one very large Spot of Yellow on the Right Side, and answers to the Name of ROVER. Whoever will bring the said Dog to the Rev. Mr. Keats, of Chalton near Petersfield, or give Notice where he may be had again, shall receive Five Shillings Reward, and all reasonable Charges.

Interestingly, the Reverend Richard Keats who owned Rover was the father of Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats (16 January 1757 – 5 April 1834) who is famous for his actions at the Battle of Algeciras Bay in July 1801. Admiral Keats was born only 5 months after Rover went missing. It would be nice to think that Rover was found and that he was the Admiral's childhood friend. Chalton is a tiny place about four miles south of Petersfield, the home of John Small, which is itself about five miles south of Empshott where Small was born. Chalton is three and a half miles east of Broadhalfpenny Down, beyond Clanfield. Nowadays, the A3 runs between Clanfield and Chalton. To the east of Chalton is the Sussex border and then, about five miles from Chalton, the village of Marden which was mentioned re wickets in 1680. Chalton has a 16th century pub called the Red Lion and a famous church called St Michael and All Angels which dates from the 13th century. Richard Keats was the vicar there for a time and subsequently Rector of Bideford and Headmaster of Blundell's School at Tiverton, both in Devon.

In The Glory Days of Cricket (GDC), Ashley Mote points out that it was some fifty miles from Broadhalfpenny to Reading and that would amount to an eight-hour ride. Mr Keats evidently decided on a wide circulation for his advert although the Mercury was one of only a few rural newspapers in England at the time. The implications are that the crowd must have been huge, probably several thousand, and that they came from far afield. It suggests that the "high feasting held on Broadhalfpenny" and the formation of the "multitude in a complete and dense circle" with "half the county present" were events that long preceded John Nyren's birth. Rover would not have been lost among a handful of spectators.

Nothing is known of the "first match" between Hambledon and Dartford except that the last of the three on Monday 30 August was billed as "the deciding match between the two elevens" and played for £50 a side. Furthermore, in the Public Advertiser announcement which Mr Waghorn recorded re the game below on Monday, 6 September, Dartford is said to have "beat Hampshire (sic) 3 matches successively".

Ashley Mote in GDC has not recognised the first match. He lists only the games on Broadhalfpenny and the Artillery Ground but there seems little doubt from the evidence that three matches did take place. Although the third match at the Artillery Ground may have been designated "the deciding match", it was not literally so and would have been a decider only if honours had been even after the first two. The primary source clearly states that Dartford won three matches successively.

We have no definite knowledge of Hambledon cricket before 1756 but the team must have gained repute already to be capable of attempting three matches against Dartford, which had been a famous club since the 1720s if not earlier. Hambledon had presumably earned recognition as the best parish team in Hampshire, but no reports of their local matches have been found. It is not known when the Hambledon Club was founded and it seems likely that some kind of parish organisation was operating in 1756, although there may well have been a patron involved such as Squire Thomas Land or Reverend Charles Powlett.

London v Dartford

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 6 September 1756

result unknown (DC)

Played for £50 a side. London had John Bryant, Joe Harris, Durling and George Smith playing for them.

Dartford v London

Dartford Brent, Dartford, Kent

Thursday, 9 September 1756

result unknown (DC)

In the announcement for the game on Monday, 6 Sept, it says "the second match will be played on Dartford Brim (sic) by the same gentlemen".

Broadhalfpenny Down

As Ashley Mote says in his splendid account of Broadhalfpenny Down's long and chequered history, "it is not where cricket started". The mythology has arisen from the place's nickname, "the cradle of cricket". As we saw right at the start of this history, the cradle was rocked by a group of children in the Weald long, long ago in the days before Longshanks, and perhaps even the Conqueror, troubled the world. Having said that, could it have been the cradle of a new style of cricket in which the ball was pitched towards a batsman wielding a straight bat?

According to Ashley-Cooper in his Hambledon Cricket Chronicle (HCC), places that had obtained a charter from the King to hold markets or establish fairs were issued with Letters Patent that were stamped with "Broad-Halfpenny".

We first hear of Broadhalfpenny Down in 1756 because a poor dog got lost there when Hambledon was playing a big match, almost certainly against Dartford. It continued to be the Hambledon Club's chosen venue until 1781 when the members decided it was too remote and that Windmill Down, which is adjacent to Hambledon village, was more suitable.

Broadhalfpenny Down is actually two miles from Hambledon, which is a fair way when most people are on foot and the rest on horseback. And it is uphill. But it did have a good pub opposite. Oddly enough, Windmill Down did not.

The end was inevitable but it took the Duke of Dorset to say it. He commented that the Down was "a bleak place to play cricket" and indeed he was probably already hankering for a return to London as the game's centre. Others agreed with him, whether they gave his views consideration or not. As a result, the club decided to take action and thought they had staved off the inevitable by the move to Windmill Down. But they had only postponed it for London beckoned and it only needed a suitable metropolitan venue to end the Hambledon adventure.

And that is what happened.

team names

So now we have found some matches involving a team that might or might not have been raised by a Hambledon club or by a Hampshire club or by a Hambledon parish organisation or by a certain patron and we can surmise that this team might have been contemporarily labelled as Hambledon or Hampshire or Squire Land's XI or whatever. In some quarters, arguments about team names seem to be more important than discussing what the teams achieved. I am not going to get involved in this except to invoke the doctrine of Sir Neville Cardus again: "The game and its players have always reflected their times".

The fact is that the contemporaries applied all sorts of labels to the teams they formed, played for, gambled upon, watched, talked about and wrote about.

In theory, you could have the same XI playing six successive matches against similar opponents and they could successively (and concurrently!) be named Hambledon Parish, Hampshire County, Earl of Winchilsea's XI, All-England, Hambledon Town, Duke of Dorset's XI; or even the Napoleon Bonaparte XI for all I know! And all (except one) of those names would be correct, or at least not incorrect. The contemporaries, the people who were around at the time, did not give a damn what the team's name was. So why should we?

Now obviously, for the purposes of a work like this, some kind of name has to be used in the match summaries and it is best to be as consistent as possible. I have taken what I hope is a common sense approach to the matter. If the main source, or what seems to be a majority of sources, has used Hambledon, then I have used Hambledon too. This is especially so if there is evidence that the team was limited to parishioners only as did happen in the 1770s when Small and Brett were excluded from a Hambledon team on the grounds that they lived in other parishes (i.e., Petersfield and Catherington respectively). If the consensus among my sources seems to be that Someone's XI was the preferred name, then I have used that.

But if it seems that there is no consensus as such and there is no special condition re a particular team's formation and it does seem to represent a certain county, notwithstanding a few given men, then I have tended to use the name of the county. I have done that through personal preference because the county, rather than the town or parish, is the team unit that I have always been used to. By and large, I have tried to adopt the same approach re the similar Dartford/Kent, Chertsey/Surrey, Oldfield/Berkshire and Hornchurch/Essex options. But not with MCC, which is a special case, although its Thursday Club was the Middlesex county XI (but that is out of scope before 1787).

I do not insist that teams raised by the Hambledon Club were Hampshire and nothing but Hampshire. Indeed, it is probable that Hambledon was a two-counties organisation for its teams may have been representative of Sussex as well as Hampshire, as per 1772 sources. Several Hambledon players like Edward "Curry" Aburrow, John Bayton, Noah Mann, William Barber, Richard Francis, Billy Beldham, John Wells and the Walkers came from other counties and "Hampshire" frequently used given men like John Edmeads, Lumpy, Lamborn and William Yalden. Even Richard Nyren was born in Sussex.

I think the whole issue of 18th century team names is a storm in a teacup and it is up to each writer to follow his own preferences.

That is the last I will say on this topic unless there is a case like the Thursday Club which does need some discussion because of the peculiar difficulties in understanding exactly what it represented; or unless I simply need to point out that the Hornchurch Club, for example, was representative of Essex as a county.

1757

the history

The Seven Years War escalated when Russia joined the Franco-Austrian alliance but there were significant victories for Prussia at the battles of Rossbach and Leuthen, where French and Austrian armies were defeated.

In May, following a reconciliation between Pitt and Newcastle, Devonshire felt obliged to resign as prime minister and Newcastle formed his second administration to May 1762. Pitt continued to direct the war effort as Secretary of State.

In India, the key battle of Plassey resulted in victory for Robert Clive (1725–1774) over the Nawab of Bengal and established the East India Company as the dominant power in most of India. Calcutta was restored to British rule and Britain captured the French possession of Chandernagore in Bengal.

the cricket

The following reference, found by Steve Harrison, is contained in William White's History & General Directory of the Borough of Sheffield (1833). In his introductory history, Mr White says: "In 1757 we find the Town Trustees attempting the abolition of brutal sports by paying 14s6d to the cricket players on Shrove Tuesday 'to entertain the populace and prevent the infamous practice of throwing at cocks'". He does not give the primary source from which he himself derived the information but it would likely be in parish or town records of some kind which may or may not still exist.

There is a reference to the same in DC where Mr Waghorn quotes his source as the much later Records of the Burgery of Sheffield (1897) by Jno. D Leader (p.382) which dates the contract as 6 February 1757 (which may have been a Julian date as 6 February 1757 in the Gregorian Calendar was a Sunday).

significant matches

London v Surrey

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London

Monday, 25 & Tuesday, 26 July 1757

Surrey won by 50 runs (CS/PVC)

There would seem to have been a declaration here. Surrey batted first and scored 84 to which London replied with 89. Surrey batted until close of play when they were apparently 126-4. It seems that London batted when play restarted on Tuesday morning and scored 71. CS says: "so that Surrey beat London by 50 notches and had six wickets to knock down".

There are conflicting reports because PVC quotes the London Chronicle on Tuesday, 26 July reporting the close of play score on Monday as "(Surrey) had three hands put out but had got 117 notches ahead". That would make the close of play score 122-3 so it seems they received a slightly premature report; perhaps their "newshound" missed the final over!? Mr Buckley confirms this position in his other work GB18.

other matches

Chertsey v Hampton

Moulsey Hurst, near Molesey, Surrey

Friday, 26 August 1757

Chertsey won (GB18)

Reported in the General Evening Post next day.

A match in September between Wirksworth and Sheffield at Brampton Moor, near Chesterfield, is the earliest reference to cricket in Derbyshire. Although it is known that cricket had been played in Sheffield since 1751, this may be the earliest indication of the Sheffield club that eventually became Yorkshire CCC.

1758

the history

The main event in the Seven Years War was the battle of Zorndorf, in which the Russians were defeated by the Prussians. The conflict was now moving in favour of the British-Prussian alliance.

the cricket

GB18 records a number of parish games this year: e.g., Saffron Walden v Cambridge; Faversham v Tenterden; Faversham v Dover; New Romney v Ashford. The presence of these and the absence of "great matches" indicates the lack of investment and resource in the game during wartime with the sport falling back onto its parish roots.

single wicket

CS records a "fives" game on Kennington Common in August. Tom Faulkner, one of the Harrises and three more of the London Club defeated five players from various Surrey clubs by three wickets.

significant matches

London & Surrey v Kent

Artillery Ground, Bunhill Fields, Finsbury, London?

Wednesday, 16 & Thu 17 August 1758

L&S won (GB18)

The venue is uncertain and it is possible a return game took place at any of about five venues but the report in the General Evening Post (three weeks later) is very ambiguous.

1759

the history

Capture of Quebec by British forces. Both generals, James Wolfe of Great Britain and the Marquis de Montcalm of France, were killed in action.

the cricket

Mr Buckley recorded more parish games in Kent but the year is notable for the tri-series between Dartford and All-England.

significant matches

Dartford v All-England

Dartford Brent, Dartford, Kent

Wednesday, 5 & Thursday, 6 September 1759

Dartford won (GB18/SB2)

Dartford had two given men: Tom Faulkner and Gascoigne of London.

All-England v Dartford

Dartford Brent, Dartford, Kent

Thursday, 6 (& Friday, 7) September 1759

All-England won (GB18)

This one was arranged immediately after the previous game finished at noon on Thursday. We do not actually know when this game finished so it is only an assumption that they played into Friday.

All-England v Dartford

Laleham Burway Ground, Chertsey, Surrey

Wednesday, 12 September 1759

Dartford won by 3 wickets (GB18/SB2)

GB18 records that the deciding match was scheduled for Wednesday, 12 September from an announcement in the Whitehall Evening Post dated Tuesday, 11 September.

Mr Haygarth refers to this series on page 2 of S&B, but only to the two games won by Dartford. He appears to believe that only two games were played. He found the names of the players in both those matches in Bell's Life dated 23 November 1845, but no scores. Bell's Life stated that the matches took place in 1765 and Mr Haygarth says another account has 1762, but it is evident that Mr Buckley has got the dates (and the sequence) right as above.

Dartford's team, evidently unchanged in all three games, was:

Tom Faulkner, Gascoigne (both London, given men), John Frame, John Bell (wk), Potter (long stop), Thomas Brandon, Thomas Bell, Goldstone, Killick, Stevens (possibly Lumpy), Wakelin.

The All-England team, also apparently unchanged, was:

Burchwood (Kent), John Edmeads (Surrey), Gill (Bucks, wk), Wood (Surrey, long stop, possibly Thomas Woods), Stephen Harding (Surrey), John Haynes (Surrey), Durling (Kent), Saunders (Berkshire), Allen (Middlesex), Nyland (sic, Sussex), Cheeseman (Sussex).

The main bowlers were stated to be Faulkner and Frame for Dartford; and Burchwood and Edmeads for All-England.

The most intriguing names are Nyland, who could have been any of the Newland brothers or perhaps their famous nephew Richard Nyren; and Stevens, who may have been the great Lumpy himself, no less. Richard Nyren and Lumpy were both 24 in 1759.

John Frame, who began in the 1740s, played on into the 1770s. He was the greatest bowler in England before Lumpy, Brett and Harris came along. John Edmeads, assuming it is the same man, was still playing for Chertsey and Surrey in the 1770s. Gill of Bucks is probably the wicket keeper in the score-recorded Hampshire v England match of June 1772.

Wood "the long stop" is possibly Thomas Woods, another Surrey player of 1761 who seems to have been confused by Haygarth with Chertsey's John Wood, who was only 14 in 1759.

john edmeads

John Edmeads (born ? at Chertsey; died July 1802 at Staines) seems to have begun his career in the 1750s and played until 1779, making 19 significant appearances from the beginning of the statistical record in 1772, by when his best years were probably behind him. He was a noted batsman and fielder, playing mainly for Chertsey and Surrey. He kept Simplemarsh Farm in the Chertsey parish; this farm was in the family for over 200 years.

gill of bucks

Gill of Buckinghamshire (first name and dates of birth and death unknown) was a noted All-England player who was a prominent wicketkeeper. Personal details, including his first name, have not been found in surviving records. He was active in the period before cricket's ''statistical record'' began in the 1772 season and his name appears in the first of the three 1772 scorecards. However, it was the last time he was recorded as he must have been near the end of his career. He was previously recorded in the All-England team that played two matches against Dartford in 1759 and it is here that he is named as a wicketkeeper from Buckinghamshire (see S&B, page 2).

Gill's career therefore spanned at least the 1759 to 1772 seasons and, given his involvement in All-England teams at both ends of that span, there can be little doubt that he was one of the most accomplished wicketkeepers of the 1760s, a period from which, as we have seen, little information has survived.

1760

the history

25 October. Death of George II (1683–1760), King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover since 1727. He was succeeded by his grandson George III (1738–1820), who was opposed to Whig policy and sought increasing political influence for himself.

the cricket

The barren season. No games of importance have been discovered. Messrs Buckley and McCann recorded a number of minor matches and additional news items, some in a military context and one in a naval context, which is a sign of the times re the drain of manpower and economic resource to the Seven Years War.

Richard Duke, the well known ball-maker of Penshurst in Kent, founded Duke & Son.

In the Leeds Intelligencer dated 20 May 1760: "Leedes (sic). The Gentlemen Cricket Players are desired to meet at Mr Cowling's at Chapeltown on Monday next the 26th instant at ten o'clock in the morning; at which place, all who are willing to become subscribers, are desired to attend. Dinner will be on the table at two o'clock." I am indebted to Steven Draper for this extract, which clearly shows that a Leeds club was founded in 1760.

But although major cricket had suffered what became its normal wartime abandonment, it was about this time that the game changed completely and evolved from its pioneering phase into what may be termed its pre-modern phase. It was all about "giving it air" and "playing a straight bat".

The First Bowling Revolution

Cricket has seen many revolutionary changes in its long history but the first of real significance was the introduction of the pitched delivery which in its turn proved to be the catalyst for the invention of the straight bat. This marked a major turning point in the game's history because it effectively created a different code of cricket, just as there are now two different codes of rugby football.

When the ball was bowled along the ground, the batsman used his curved bat to attack it and try to hit it away, usually with the intention of lofting it over the fielders. There was, as such, no defensive technique other than the most rudimentary and instinctive attempt to stop a ball that had deceived him. The pitched delivery made the curved bat obsolete and the straight bat lent itself to the deployment of a defensive stroke.

In John Nyren's Memoranda (1832), he writes:

The following account of a match played in the year 1744 ...

'It arose from a challenge given by Lord John Sackville on the part of the County of Kent to play all England; and it proved to be a well contested match as will appear from the manner in which the players kept the field. The hitting however could neither have been of a high character nor indeed safe, as may be gathered from the figure of the bat at that time; which was similar to an old-fashioned dinner knife, curved at the back and sweeping in the form of a volute at the front and end. With such a bat the system must have been all for hitting; it would be barely possible to block and when the practice of bowling length balls was introduced and which gave the bowler so great an advantage in the game it became necessary to change the form of the bat. It was therefore made strait in the pod (sic).'

Some years after this the fashion of the bat having been changed to a strait form the system of stopping and blocking was adopted.

And this is effectively all we can find about the introduction of the "length ball" and the consequent development of the "strait" bat! The revolution apparently occurred after the landmark year of 1744 and probably well into the 1750s, if not the 1760s, but definitely before 1770.

Interestingly, John Nyren went on to praise John Small and Lumpy Stevens as the most eminent and esteemed players of the day. It has long been thought that Lumpy was the first great exponent of the flighted delivery, even if he did not actually introduce it. John Small, who became a batmaker in course of time, may not have invented the straight bat but he has always been held as the first to master its use.

Nyren's views on batting technique are the most interesting part of the above passage. It would seem that batsmen formerly went out to hit every delivery, rather in the style of today's limited overs batsmen, and invariably got out cheaply, especially as the prevailing pitch conditions were definitely not in their favour. It seems only too logical to suppose that they would play defensively against difficult balls but Nyren seems to say they did not and that defensive technique had to be devised and adopted, the straight bat providing them with the tool for the job, as it were.

Unlike the later introductions of roundarm and overarm, this change to the accepted method of bowling doesn't appear to have ignited major controversy. There seems to have been a seamless transition from "true" bowling (i.e., trundling and skimming) to pitching. The crux of the matter may well be that no one suggested the arm action was illegal. Using an underarm action, the arm's movement and its proximity to the bowler's body are the same if he intends to trundle the ball along the ground, to skim it across the ground or to pitch it onto a distant piece of ground. The only difference is the height of the hand above the ground at release. With a roundarm action, the arm moved away from the body and the opponents of roundarm cried "foul", claiming that it was "throwing". The same happened again when overarm started.

One of the very best passages in all of Rowland Bowen's Growth & Development History is, oddly enough, a footnote. This is what he has to say about "true bowling" and "true throwing" in the context of the pitched delivery being introduced:

Bowling has two meanings: one is its original meaning of rolling a ball along the ground, and the other is its special cricket meaning of the bowler delivering a ball to the batsman within the definition of current laws. Throwing has also two meanings: one is the normal straightforward meaning of propelling a ball other than by rolling it and the other is its special cricket meaning, which has altered with the years, of a bowler's delivery which is not in accordance with the-current laws.

Until the mid-eighteenth century all cricket bowling was true bowling. Then we had what is called under-arm and this may be 'cricket' bowling but it is not true bowling–it is true throwing. If anyone doubts this, let him 'bowl' under-arm and 'throw' under-arm and he will be hard put to it to find any difference for there is none.

Round-arm when it first appeared before the eighteenth century was out and until it was legalized was at first called 'cricket' throwing: as its delivery did not differ from the under-arm delivery which was true throwing, save only in that the arm was raised outwards from a vertical plane, or near-vertical plane in which under-arm had been delivered, it followed that it was not only 'cricket' throwing, it was also true throwing, like under-arm. But under-arm was not regarded as throwing by cricketers: nor, when round-arm was legalized was it regarded as throw­ing by cricketers. We thus reach a stage where round-arm was 'cricket' bowling but also true throwing! It is fascinating that it was originally condemned as 'straight-armed bowling'!!

In due course, round-arm became over-arm: and, as with round-arm, over-arm was at first regarded by cricketers as throwing. Insofar as the delivery was no more than a more vertical round-arm it was indeed true throwing. At some unknown stage, the idea took root that 'cricket' bowling involved a straight arm. In due course over-arm was legalized as 'cricket' bowling but it was not true bowling: having become legalized, after a period of time cricketers began to dis­cern two types of over-arm bowling, one, which was not to be distinguished from round-arm, und which was a throw, a true throw, and one which became what cricketers regard as legitimate bowling, but which is all the same still truly a throw. The former came to be penalized as a 'cricket' throw: the latter is accepted as correct. Note that all the way from the beginning of under-arm, all 'cricket' bowling has in fact been true throwing. The distinction that cricketers make is an artificial one, and if, for example, over-arm were suddenly made illegal, what they call throwing would prevail in almost every delivery, and in fact every delivery would be a true throw, as it is now.

But a true throw is not a "cricket throw" and a "cricket bowl" is not a true bowl.

The italics are mine. I think this is the best description of bowling vis-à-vis throwing that I have ever found.

The "two codes" are bridged by the career of John Frame who played with pioneers like Waymark, Newland and Colchin at the beginning of his career and with pre-modernists like Small and Stevens at the end. These were all great players but the type of cricket that the last two played was, if you will pardon the cliche, a completely different ball game.

The History of Cricket: 1746–1750 | The History of Cricket: 1761–1770 | Index

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